The Politics of Housing

The Politics of Housing is necessarily societal, in other words you can’t divorce housing from politics.

When canvassing for the Brexit vote in 2019 and accepting becoming our Prime Minister in July 2019, Boris Johnson promised that his government would be a government inclusive for all in society, having won the popular vote on that basis.

It is clear from the Prime Minister’s closing speech at the Conservative Party Conference on the 6th October 2021 that the main political parties in Britain vehemently disagree with one another to the point of being hateful of each other. How depressingly sad! Many people consider it is politically unwise to reciprocate hate and derision to those already engaging in it, in order to score pints or to denigrate the chosen opponent.

It is also insufficient to ignore those who may disagree with one’s own declared point of view. All opponents deserve a proper explanation of your thinking, even if they may continue to disagree. Proper debate is a necessary formality in any democracy. If democracy is still to be hailed as being king, then listening to the points of view held by ‘other’ and debating them is essential. That should naturally include debating with the electorate.

Whatever political view an individual may wish to take, it would seem to me that there are three institutions that should be held as being at the very pinnacle of present day society. These are The Judiciary, The NHS and The Town and Country Planning Acts and laws.

To demolish or significantly downgrade any of the principles held in these well established disciplines would be tantamount to dismantling democracy as we know it. Whenever setting out to make new policy for the benefit of a whole country such as Britain, these three disciplines should always be fully taken into account and given careful consideration.

Tough love, directed towards some parts of society, may be necessary for further improvement but it would, by its own definition, have to be based on love and nurture, not prejudice.

The noblest of decisions, taken in order to improve the lot of the many in modern society must occasionally fail in practice.

If this happens I would suggest the lessons set out in Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata could help and these should be applied. Using these philosophies more wisdom, knowledge and learning can replace one’s own present misunderstandings, relatively swiftly and blamelessly. It advises, as far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

To me this means those who are not learning from life or improving their own way of thinking in the process, are wasting their present lifetime whilst destroying theirs and others’ future prospects. Taking such a stance should not be seen as being a weakness. It is a strength which can make our nation greater than it has ever been.

Based on this, certain core policies are needed to steer us in the direction of forward progress.

What follows is a set of proposals to seal the cracks inside our community before these widen or establish themselves structurally. The resultant damage that would be done if this was to be allowed to happen would be incalculable.

FOR EXAMPLE: Before designing a new Town & Country Planning system for the whole of Britain, it would be a good idea to get a clear picture of what would make each local community thrive, and then incorporate precisely that.

To date we have seen little evidence of that and practically no justification for the arbitrary zoning designations which are being proposed in the Planning White Paper currently being debated in Parliament. This deserves much further consideration.

The clear and over-riding objective surely must be for ordinary working people to be able to find openings for good new jobs.

My contention, (even though it was not spelled out in Prime Minister Johnson’s speech at the recent Conference), is the forward plan must in fact be to debate and arrange with business leaders to start searching for and employing more-skilled people, including training them up and paying them substantially more whilst expecting more productivity/profitability from them in return.

The resultant gain to industry could be achieved from increasing the incentive amongst school leavers and university graduates alike to decide on a higher-skilled career for themselves, earlier, and then to train more intensively for that.

Those youngsters who do not choose to follow this path would be likely to have to accept whatever unskilled jobs there may be at low wages (and with little or no prospects), of course.

This is, in effect, increasing the requirement on job seekers to decide what they would like to do earlier and to embark on getting the best training and qualifications they need for their choices of career.

Other successful economies have already achieved such outcomes and because this has been done elsewhere it could certainly be done in Britain if the incentives were provided.

One organisation, KPMG (the accountancy conglomerate) is already in the news for helping in the battle for greater diversity among types of job especially within the poorer communities by offering apprenticeships. It wants nearly a third of their staff to be coming from working class backgrounds by 2030. Enabling diversity of perspective, fresh thinking, and wide-ranging insight should help all businesses to perform.

Those from routine maintenance and service organisations may apply. Levels of pay and prospects in life really matter to employees but so does aspiration. Van drivers, butchers and factory workers should be among those applying for schemes such as these if they should wish to do so.

I wonder if anyone else is thinking these may be the insights behind Boris Johnson’s recent Conference Speech?

Equally importantly is the house price crisis and for more about how the lack of adequate housing combined with the UNaffordability problem could be fully resolved, not only swiftly but also economically, please follow the link below:

The House Price Virtuoso Solution

How to Improve Housing Markets in England and Wales.

What do you think about these ideas for drastically improving the operation of all housing markets in Britain?

Constructive comments are very much welcomed.

Posted by: Peter Hendry, Housing Valuation Consultant

Author:– The House Price Virtuoso Solution

The Nature of Communities

As Her Majesty The Queen rightly says following the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, we should pay tribute to the resilience and determination of our communities.

As far as housing is concerned the important thing for government to consider is everything is going up, whilst at the same time the less well-off aren’t keeping up on a financial level.

The less well off should not be discriminated against in this way, surely?

IF we, as a capitalist society, are going to allow housing to be distributed depending simply on price, then clearly, houses left on the market will go to the most wealthy and hardly any will go to deserving people within each separate community.

This difficulty was purposefully addressed and managed leading up to and following the end of the last war by building council-owned properties available to be rented by those within society who could not afford to buy their own homes.

Unfortunately it now seem as if the less well off are being discriminated against, by the policies materialising during the more recent and longest stretch of post-war peace.

As a nation we should be turning away from this and instead move forward as an inclusive, modern and considerate society.  After all, we depend on large numbers of these people to keep the basic fabric of our society operating.

Supplying council-owned properties for rent actually worked quite well over the past 45 or so years and allowed the less well of to live alongside wealthier people in strategically located council estates. However, it did result in the creation of a two class society which had its problems.

All that changed of course, after Margaret Thatcher headed up the government when shortly afterwards, she brought in the sale of council houses to tenants at discounted prices. This was not a new idea. The “Right to Buy” idea was under consideration in the late 1940s, but did not win Conservative endorsement at that time.

Although Margaret Thatcher was able to activate this policy, unfortunately, she did not incorporate a way of dealing with the subsequent and increasing wealth differential between those who were becoming increasingly richer and those remaining with the least possible levels of wealth through their own individual circumstances. Nothing was put in place to help such people following dismantling the core of the council housing estates and importantly, neither were the proceeds from the sale of council houses allocated to replace any such housing.

Practically all that’s left to house those remaining unable to afford the price of owning one’s own home is the private landlord-financed, rental sector offering mainly assured shorthold or six month initial letting contracts.  That and today’s housing associations as corporate landlords but these have far too few properties to accommodate the extremely high current demand.

Falling back on private landlords to supply large scale housing in this way was never going to be the answer. It has since turned out to be every bit as bad as one might have expected it to be. It is a sort of mirror of the notorious earlier period of exploitation, which took place after the 1940-45 war when a demobbed Polish born soldier Perec Rachman (born 16 August 1919 – 29 November 1962), operated as a property speculator in London during the fifties and early sixties. His initial job was in estate agency, so we probably ought to have expected problems with lack of repairs, overcrowding, and excessive rents to return as a result of those needing so much short term housing, again involving having to rely upon private investors. That is the reason why the private rented sector still needs wholesale improvement today.

As explained there had already been severe problems with the private rented sector when Mrs Thatcher first came to occupy Number 10 in May 1979 and lasting until November 1990. Not to put in place a suitable alternative to council housing whilst effectively privatising it and whilst knowing about this recent history, appears, in retrospect, to have been a poor stance to have taken at this particular moment.

Whilst, at that time, there seemed to be no realistic alternative, nowadays there are several better options which are certainly possible and which are covered in the link to The Solution below.

Everyone can see that the private rental sector is not performing to an adequate standard, so the government should urgently be looking for an appropriate alternative.  The question is not merely whether they should but which alternative should they choose?

I am saying that the front runner is to modify the way that houses in general are marketed, making this more to do with community and less to do with the purchaser’s bank balance.

A combination of planning controls together with fairer house marketing principles would allow affordability to be maintained for those who should be able to buy where they live and work. It should provide for sufficient properties not to be swallowed up by the wealthiest in society working or living elsewhere. Such a change would not be difficult to bring about in today’s world and there would be no need to build massive new municipal housing estates to house the less wealthy either.

Instead, it would simply involve setting up a new and better way of distributing housing which would be both local and community-centred rather than purely capital value orientated. If we care for our communities, this is unquestionably to way to go.

The resilience and determination of our communities is what should be nurtured in today’s world, not allowing individuals to gain ever increasing profits from the bare necessities of life for others. We should still value community, society and inclusivity just as our monarch has reminded us concerning 9/11 on the twentieth anniversary recently.  Equality should be a rite of passage not a luxury.

I have set out the details of my strategy (or solution) for achieving this on this web site. The solution combines the effective use of planning controls with a more appropriate way of deciding who buys what. It is still primarily based on price of course but in a more locally resolved yet open way. A way which incorporates how we might like our communities to develop and thrive over time.

My solution would reduce the growing and progressive takeover of the more attractive parts of Britain by the wealthy and instead allow those contributing to each local community a better chance to buy a place of their own to live where they work.

The solution would favour those needing to live in certain locations over the wealthier incomer. Those who would simply like to buy a house where they work. Second homes, at concentration, would be strongly discouraged and may even be prevented when that is required.

To read about how this very special change could be put into effect, please follow the link below to the set of pages that explain this:

The House Price Virtuoso Solution

How to Improve Housing Markets in England and Wales.

What do you think about this idea for drastically improving the operation of all housing markets in Britain?

Constructive comments are very much welcomed.

Posted by: Peter Hendry, Housing Valuation Consultant

Author:– The House Price Virtuoso Solution

The correct way to resolve the crisis in the British housing markets

The correct way to resolve the crisis in the British housing markets is being blocked by the raft of confused political thinking in Westminster.

For example it’s no good just trying to help some people, by making larger loans to them!

It’s all too easy to let bank loans cause house prices to rise and give the illusion of good times for all, when in actual fact houses are simply becoming less and less affordable by the majority. This will naturally damage the various local housing markets to varying degrees.

The government is doing itself no favours by pursuing such policies at a time when many people, especially the younger generations, hope for a reasonable prospect of achieving owner-occupation at price-levels which are affordable and to be able to find houses in sufficient quantity to satisfy the projected increasing level of demand.

There is a gauche political will not to enable this, appearing through a mist of confusion like a giant iceberg floating in the path of those wishing and needing to make something of their lives. The course most young people would prefer to steer is not to be tethered to an ever increasing financial commitment that saps away the creativity they are born with. Instead the seek to steer a course destined to bring fruit to all of our lives, right across society.

Stifling the nascent creativity of the young in this way is a totally inappropriate thing to do. 

If those in Parliament cannot see this is happening on their watch so to speak, then everyone will suffer, including the politicians entrusted with bringing us a brighter future rather than a much bleaker one.

The correct way to resolve the crisis in the British housing markets is plainly to lower the cost of housing whilst increasing its supply in an orderly and environmentally considered way.

Some of you reading this may well be of the view that reducing house prices would be practically impossible but I say this is wrong. My surveying experience tells me there are ample opportunities for less profit to be taken by several of the participants involved in the process of supplying more housing in this country, not least in land prices which are actually geared directly to house prices themselves.

For the exact way such a refreshing change might be achieved please see the methodology set out in:

The House Price Virtuoso Solution

How to Improve Housing Markets in England and Wales.

What do you think about this idea for drastically improving the operation of all housing markets in Britain?

Constructive comments are very much welcomed.

Posted by: Peter Hendry, Housing Valuation Consultant

Author:– The House Price Virtuoso Solution

The Cure For The Malaise Across All British Housing Markets

The cure for the malaise across all British housing markets is to use a combination of two cures, in a similar way to a doctor using two specific antibiotics to cure a bacterial infection.

The expertise required to achieve that would involve first acquiring an accurate knowledge of the causes of such infections and following this, the ability to diagnose the correct medicinal cure for the specific infection involved.

It is of course imperative to be able to understand precisely how and why a specific illness or malaise will have occurred. Only then can the correct medicinal cure be prescribed.

Peter Hendry says, “I can explain in simple terms why house prices are continuing to rise despite the increasing lack of affordability affecting ever more prospective buyers.”

In a nutshell, the housing market should find the values of houses in a quite specific way.

The true value (or the correct buy price), of any house being offered for sale should be arrived at by adding THREE separately-assessed components together:

1 The land value – which depends in part upon location.

2: The construction cost (including a profit element to the builder or developer).

3: A further amount of equity or profit produced as a result of having combined these two.

These are the things that a sensible buyer should theoretically be considering, even if only subliminally.

All too often however, anxious buyers will base their offers on a combination of how much they could possibly afford and borrow, together with knowing the asking price being quoted.

What makes this task particularly difficult to quantify is that house prices in today’s housing marketplaces are not derived in perfect market conditions at all. The reason for this is because in a perfect marketplace, the whole amount of homes on the market would be sold and the demand for them would also be fully satisfied at all times.

Instead, the present day housing markets have large overruns where, either there is too much property being offered at any one time or alternatively, there are too few properties being offered to purchasers.

Both extremes are most unsatisfactory for prospective purchasers of houses in the regional marketplaces and especially in tourist and second-home prevalent communities.

Unfortunately, current day estate agency does not assess house prices in the way described just now. Instead they peg asking prices at the level they might simply guess they could sell a house for but also they may well often include what their client (the seller) might hope to achieve when determining an asking price!

Worse, they base their asking prices on what other asking prices are, including what the other recent sales will have achieved, albeit these would have used skewed marketing comparisons themselves for the reasons just set out.

To justify what is being explained here, a year ago for example a typical estate agent had 37 properties available and 379 applicants on their register (according to statistics published by the NAEA). Today, after a spirited first half of the year and after COVID has started to reduce, a typical estate agent apparently has just 23 live listings and over 400 applicants on their register.

If knowledge such as this were to be broadcast, it would skew prices-levels downwards whilst the market is flush with houses for sale and it would skew prices-levels upwards when there were not enough houses coming onto the market – as now.

In the former case, sadly there is inherent pressure within estate agency to want to hide the true facts of an excess of properties being listed for sale compared with buyers so as not to spook the market and to keep things going as smoothly as possible, rather than face the reality of a downwards-changing market, with prices dipping.

In the latter case however, with too few properties on their books and too many buyers wanting them, broadcasting the lack of supply actually helps agents to justify trying for rising prices even against general economic trends! This has been what’s going on recently of course.

Selling agents may try to argue that it is the desperation of buyers which is forcing the prices up but that does not explain why the housing markets are operating at such low efficiency in terms of completed sales. This shows serious imperfections, resulting in their lack of stability which means these markets are in need of a completely new approach to buying and selling houses.

In my analysis and resultant diagnosis following understanding the true causes of these problems, two specific ways to deal with them emerge.

A: Firstly there should be restrictions on the right to occupy a proportion of houses in each locality as being permanent “Primary Residence” restricted. This would mean these houses would be for use only by local people, such as key workers for example.

Most people seem to agree that each locality absolutely needs housing to be affordable to those fulfilling the essential roles in their community. This should therefore be enshrined in each area’s local planning rules.

Secondly and very importantly:

B: The emphasis on all prices should be changed so that these are set by ‘buyer offers’ rather than seller price-rigging, which is of course not an open market practice in any way if this is carefully scrutinised.

This is where The House Price Virtuoso Solution (formerly described as The Hendry Solution) could come in. It allows for both of the essential changes cited above.

It would do this by re-shaping house sales methods entirely and by including the use of “Primary Residence” restrictions on certain properties.

AND

It would enable all buyers to be free to participate and establish the price levels themselves, (subject to declared “Primary Residence” restrictions, which would be locally established using the local planning rules).

To read more about how The House Price Virtuoso Solution could improve the way in which houses are bought and sold across all local housing markets in the whole country, please click the following link.

The House Price Virtuoso Solution

How to Improve Housing Markets in England and Wales.

Posted by: Peter Hendry, Housing Valuation Consultant

Author:– The House Price Virtuoso Solution

Buyers need far better representation in the British housing markets

With estate agents acting primarily for sellers and land owners, buyers get poor advice or representation all too often.
Even though they are the ones raising (and usually borrowing) the money for each transaction, they are often the last ones to be told how things are progressing, especially where chains of other sales are involved. A lot of patching up of interlinking chains is frequently going on behind the scenes, which is not necessarily to the advantage of unsuspecting buyers further down the chain. Sale prices at the lower end may require to be re-evaluated.

This is inefficient and ought to be changed otherwise the different local housing markets across England and Wales cannot begin to function more like perfect marketplaces as they should do.

All this happens because estate agents are primarily motivated to try and obtain the best price they can for whatever asset it is they are selling, since they are contracted to act on behalf of the seller. The buyer is often the last person to be told when bids in competition with their own are are being negotiated by the selling agent and then the only remedy remaining for them is to have to find more cash to increase their offer!  It operates rather like a sort of clandestine bidding war usually conducted over a telephone.

House prices as a result, are now passing all time highs but also, they are increasing beyond average couples’ annual earning capabilities for maximum borrowing requirements. This is a big problem especially where earnings are falling. It’s vital that a more generally acceptable approach is available to everyone embarking on house moves, especially if they are first-time purchasers. Purchaser mobility ought to be what should be improved.

The only way this could be done would be to change the way residential property is sold by having agents acting for buyers instead of only acting for sellers.

It is clear that existing estate agents are understandably likely to be reluctant to consider such a change for as long as they can continue to control sales progress in the way they have done essentially since the 1920s.

It would require the buying public to start complaining about the anomalies they are having to contend with when using agents, as well as to prevail upon government to make the necessary improvements to bring about fairer but competitive pricing processes across all residential property markets. Only then could house prices track buyer purchasing power in the localities in which each particular property is located.
The correct solution to this problem does need further in-depth explanation in order for the concept to be fully understood.

For a fully reasoned explanation about this, explaining exactly how such improvements might be achieved please go to:

The House Price Virtuoso Solution (otherwise known as The Hendry Solution)

The House Price Virtuoso Solution

Full details of my proposals for properly reforming the UK housing market.

Posted by: Peter Hendry, Housing Valuation Consultant
Author:– The House Price Virtuoso Solution

Simply building more houses can’t solve the housing crisis

Obviously we need to get more houses built, both for rent and to buy but developing this as a strategy for calming the housing market is not going to remedy the prices uplift which we have recently experienced. It cannot do that simply because building more can’t achieve anything for as long as the considerable time it would take to actually complete the building of the extra housing required.

The market itself is in need of intervention and this does require the involvement of government. A government that can put effective policies into practice faster than the simple but over-quoted ‘build more’ idea.

My solution is to overhaul the way in which houses are marketed, both for sale and to let by changing the way agents themselves operate.

A more market friendly method is required so that house prices can be attuned more towards peoples ability to pay, with less of the speculative pricing by agents, whom currently act only for the vendor legally. It is this which requires urgent attention.

A more transparent housing market would not only take the froth out of asking prices but would have the added effect of calming rent levels too. For more information please go to the link below:

My proposal for the way housing in England and Wales should be marketed, is based on changing from vendor-centric estate agencies to buyer-oriented ones as described in The House Price Virtuoso Solution. This would not cost much to implement and would bring massive benefits to all local marketplaces.

To read more about The House Price Virtuoso Solution go to the following link:

The House Price Virtuoso Solution (otherwise known as The Hendry Solution)

The House Price Virtuoso Solution

How to Improve the Housing Markets in England and Wales.

Posted by: Peter Hendry, Housing Valuation Consultant
Author:– The House Price Virtuoso Solution